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Universities Returning to White, Middle Class Root

New Zealand Universities will return to being the domain of the white, middle class unless urgent attention is given to boosting participation among Maori, other ethnic groups and students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association President Chris Hipkins said today.

Mr. Hipkins was commenting on figures in Victoria University's recently released Annual Report that show Maori student numbers at Victoria have declined by over 5% in the past year. 1999 will be the second year in a row Maori student numbers have dropped.

"Not only are we seeing a decrease in the number of Maori students coming to Vic, we are also seeing a massive decrease (29%) in the number of Maori students graduating at the Marae Graduation Ceremony," Mr. Hipkins said. "Even if Maori students make it here, the chances of them completing their degree aren't good,"

"These revelations are no surprise when you consider them in the context of fee increases and crippling student loan debts," Mr. Hipkins said. "It's clear that the constantly increasing cost of a university education is starting to act as a barrier to participation,"

"If the University and the Government are serious about providing tertiary education opportunities to all New Zealanders, then urgent attention will need to be given to bringing down tuition fees and boosting financial support for all students," Mr. Hipkins said.

Mr. Hipkins said a study released by Auckland University last year also showed that few students from low decile schools were coming to University, another sign that financial pressures were preventing some school leavers furthering their study.

Other important points noted in the Annual Report: * The overall number of Equivalent Full Time Students (EFTS) has decreased by 0.5% in 1999, following on from a decrease of 0.2% in 1998 * Graduate student numbers fell sharply (9%) in 1999, down from 2354 to 2131 * The amount of money collected in tuition fees increased from $30.9m to $34.2m * Income from government grants fell by a proportionate amount from $74.9m to $71.4m * Student accommodation in Wellington continues to be tight, with close to 100% occupancy rates in University halls and flats * Student Services continue to receive high student satisfaction levels

ENDS

******************************************************************** Chris Hipkins President Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (Inc.) Te Ropu Tauira o te Kura Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui

+64 (4) 473 8566 VUWSA Office +64 (4) 499 7100 facsimile +64 (4) 384 6389 after hours +64 (021) 707 927 cellular ********************************************************************


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